Picture two buddies sitting inside an old beat up car in an old beaten up parking lot in mid-90’s Finland. Their Black Sabbath ‘Paranoid’ cassette is blaring full blast out of their rusty car stereo. These two men are identified as Ville Hermanni Valo and Mikko Paananen. Ville is screaming his lungs out to the shrieking howl of Osbourne and Mikko is pounding on his lap to the beat of Ward’s thunderous drum fills. This love and inspiration they get from the mighty Sabbath fuels their fire for musical domination and drives them to start a band. With guitarist Mikko Lindstrom, drummer Juhana Rantala, and keyboardist Antto Melasniemi in tow, the outspoken Finnish boys collectively identify themselves as His Infernal Majesty. They immediately begin crafting songs focused on the “dark” side of love and heartache. They produce an EP entitled ‘666 Ways to Love: Prologue’ and release it onto Finnish ears in late 1996.
This was a four-track EP containing many songs that would eventually bleed into their debut record, ‘Greatest Lovesongs, Vol. 666’. ‘Greatest Lovesongs, Vol. 666’ was worked on and polished from late 1996 to late 1997. The band shortened their name from His Infernal Majesty to HIM in response to various accusations of them being satanic,which, though the name was lifted from Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible, was not true. Little did Ville and the boys know, there was already a band in Chicago named HiM. The band used the name anyway, officially buying rights to the name later down their path. ‘Greatest Lovesongs’ broke onto the Finnish charts in late 1997, landing at #4. The album also reached #50 on the German charts. The record, surprisingly, wasn’t released in the US until 2005 and earned the #31 spot on their charts. The album contained a mixture of Type O Negative-influenced songs with Black Sabbath overtones gracing each and every song. Four singles were issued upon release of this album including, ‘When Love And Death Embrace’, ‘Your Sweet Six Six Six’, ‘Wicked Game’ (previously recorded by Chris Isaak), and ‘It’s All Tears’. Each and every one of these singles are still played live to this day. The album left people wanting more after all 41 minutes of it were up. Being the tongue-in-cheek band that they are, they would not stop recording the album until it had taken up 666 megabytes of space on the disk. In order to do this, they filled the 9-track album with 57 blank tracks after the last song ended, causing the length of the album to shoot up to 66 minutes long. If you want to get into this band, you need to start here first. This album cements the band’s classic sound and lays the groundwork for their 7 albums to come after it.
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